Thursday, August 27, 2015

What are the other kids doing?

"What are the other kids doing?"  This question has often been asked by S since he started PreK. He always wanted to do what the other kids were doing whether it was work, play, or activities.  

When he realized that a reduced work load was an accommodation being discussed in an IEP meeting, he was adamant that he was not having that. 
"What are the other kids doing? That is what I will do."

As he became older, he realized that he did do what the other kids were doing. He may have done it differently or it may have taken longer, but he did it.

Last year as we talked about S going to college we discussed the fact that he might have to start with a lighter load. "What? Is that what the other kids do when they start college?"  Some might.

We spent a lot of time talking about the pace of a college class, the work load, and the fact that we wanted him to be successful not frazzled. He did agree to start with 7 credits: Statistics, English Composition, and College Success Skills.

Two weeks into the semester and he understands why we wanted him to start with a lighter load.
1.  He has already decided that there is no way he can take 12 credits next semester.
2.  He has realized that he prefers morning class over afternoon class. He is not a morning person but he has realized the benefit of getting up and starting his day.
3.  He fully gets why he needs to stay on top of his homework, especially statistics.
"All I do is math homework." 
Yep. Welcome to college.
4.  He has also realized that he doesn't want to do what the other kids are doing which is not doing their homework. We keep telling him that all of his hard work now will pay off later (I hope that comes true).  

You will find me on the couch with chocolate and some wine as we help S study Statistics. There will be a celebration at our house when that class is finished!

(I managed to write this entire post on my phone while waiting to pick S up from his class.)

Friday, August 21, 2015

The first week of college

My son started college this week.  This is a BIG deal at our house.  S has worked very hard to get to this point in his life.  He hasn’t done this alone.  We haven’t done this alone.  It has taken a village to get our son here.  In the post, “I have been successful”, my son writes about the help he has received from others.  It has truly been a group effort.

Let me tell you about this week.

The day before college starts

This post talks about all we have done this past year to get to this point.  It has been a lot of work, but we made it to the day before.

The first day of classes

I dropped my son off before his morning class.  His last words to me were, “Pray for me.”  Oh, I have been...a lot.

The second day of classes

Today was just one class, English.  My son had already had contact with the professor.  He said this classroom is smaller than the other classrooms he is in, so there are challenges maneuvering himself to the front of the room.  Other students helped get the table where he needed it.  The helpfulness of others has been a true blessing!

This weekend
This weekend we will be helping S get himself organized.  This is a challenge for him, but he is motivated.  He already has his new digital recorder.  He has purchased new Dragon software for himself (appreciate the student discount).  He needed the Premium version which is supposed to transcribe his recorded lectures.  Can we get a Hallelujah for that?  Technology is a wonderful thing!!

In addition to starting classes, my son also had a dental appointment and a chiropractor appointment.  Fun, fun, fun!

Next week should be a routine week of classes for him.  My friend who has offered to help with transportation has already asked about next week.  I told her we need one full week to really work through the logistics of everything - timing for drop off/pick up, tutoring schedules, additional meetings, and which parking spaces are the best options for S to get himself to class.  We had some issues with Thursday’s parking spaces and the path that a wheelchair is expected to get through and around.  S decided he would rather wheel himself for a longer distance than have the closer route.

This weekend will be spent on the couch with chocolate enjoying my son's successful week!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

School and Adoption Sensitivity

This week's Adoption Link Up topic is "School and Adoption Sensitivity."  This is an interesting topic.

Quick background on my family

We have two children.  J was adopted while we lived in Germany.  He has been with us since birth.  When he was two, he became the younger brother when we adopted S who was 4 from Bulgaria.  

Projects requiring baby pictures

Within months of S coming home, he started school as a PreKindergarten student.  PreK students do a lot of projects including pictures of family.  We had read about this and printed articles for his teacher to read.  She was fabulous and worked with us to make sure the projects didn't exclude S by asking for baby pictures.  She worded things by asking for early pictures or young pictures.  We were very fortunate, and we appreciate her sensitivity in how she handled this.

Because J has been with us since birth, baby pictures were never an issue for school projects.


We had contact with the school prior to S coming home. We wanted them to be aware of this new student they would be getting. The team was amazing! Because S has special needs, the school knew that testing needed to be done.

The following paragraph is from a post I posted in May, Take your test scores and....

"When S started school, we didn’t know for sure how much of an impact his CP and vision issues had on his intellectual development.  We were also dealing with the fact that English was not his first language.  He was adopted from Bulgaria at the age of 4.  Fortunately, we were working with a team that understood all of this.  Just in case they didn’t, I had printed multiple articles off of the internet addressing the issue of testing children who were adopted internationally."

This team was receptive to this information. We were so blessed with them because the next school did not provide us with such positive experiences. 

Family Trees

When the boys had to do family tree projects in primary/elementary school, we gave them ways to incorporate their birth families/culture if they chose.

High School Biology

When J was a freshman, he had Biology in school.  During their unit on Genetics, he came home laughing.  They were discussing eye color and using a Punnett Square.  The teacher was going through the square explaining it.  "If your parents have ____, then you will have ____."  J said he really wanted to raise his hand and explain that both of his parents have blue eyes and he has brown eyes.  

I will be on the couch with chocolate appreciating the fact that our boys' teachers were respectful of our family.

Linking up with:

No Bohns About It

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The first day of classes

I dropped my son off before his morning class.  His last words to me were, “Pray for me.”  Oh, I have been...a lot.  I put that on Facebook, so S had many prayer warriors praying for him.

It was a pretty awesome moment to see him take his first “step” (I should say roll) into this new chapter of his life.

I was allowed to take a picture at home but not at school.  
His first day went well.  He didn't get lost. He ran into a student he attended co-op with a couple of years ago, and this kind young man made sure S got to the right classroom for Statistics.

He said the worst part of the day was just trying to get everything back into his bag.  His pencil fell on the floor.  His audio recorder fell on the floor and the batteries fell out.  When his dad went to show him that the file was still on the recorder, dad deleted the file.  Oops!  (Dad is buying him a new recorder tonight.) Packing his bag up has always been a challenge for him. It will get faster and easier with practice.

He talked to his teachers about his accommodations. He went to the Tutoring Center and is set up to start Statistics tutoring next week. He met up with the Assistive Technology Coordinator in one of the buildings, and this very helpful man made sure everything was set up in the classroom for S.  

He is working on his homework as I am typing this. We are thankful Day 1 was successful. Tomorrow is just English class. Hoping for another successful day!

You will find me on the couch with chocolate celebrating the successes in life!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The day before college starts

Here it is!  We made it.  It is the day before college starts.  It has been a process to get to this point. There have been many appointments scheduled, many trips to the college, many assistive technology decisions made, many logistical things that we have had to think through….but it has arrived.  The day before school….

How did we get here?
It has been a process.  We like to tell our son that these are all learning opportunities for him.  I think he’s tired of all of these opportunities.

The following list of blog posts is kind of a picture of what the process has been like the past year.  We started working toward this transition a long time ago, but some things just can’t be done until the end.

What have we been doing this week?
This week has been a collaborative effort on our family’s part to make sure that S has everything he needs to be successful.

We have been to campus a number of times in the past week making sure S can get himself around campus.  The challenge he has with his Low Vision is that he can’t see the building names across campus.  He needs to know his exact path to follow to get from A to B.  We have visited campus frequently.  He has wheeled himself around.  We have talked out a path.  We have found landmarks for him to identify.  

Oh...another challenge is that it’s not just a matter of getting to the building and entering a door. He has to find the door that has the handicap accessible button or the door with the ramp.  

One more challenge S has is that he has a horrible sense of direction; however, he is very good with maps and creating a picture in his head.  He has studied the campus map.  We created a campus made of Legos, and he has moved the Lego man around campus and talked about the path.


He has his school supplies.  His supply list is somewhat different than other students.  He has Assistive Technology devices and software to help with his Low Vision and fine motor issues due to Cerebral Palsy.  He is using Zoom Text, Dragon Dictation, and the EmPower program through efofex software (free software for students with special needs to help with math and science equations and graphing) along with:

The Transformer which projects an enlarged image onto his laptop screen.  He has just received this, so he needs some practice with it to see how helpful it will really be.


He received a syllabus already from one teacher with her supplies on it.  We have had to try to figure out exactly what he will need from that list as we look at how he will adapt her requirements to fit his needs.  He has emailed her, and she seems quite receptive to what he has suggested.

S also has ADD which presents a challenge when we are talking about college.  Time management and planning are going to be key in his success.  He likes using Google Calendar and the task list.  He has already entered all of his assignments from the syllabus he has received.  (I won’t tell how long it actually took him to do that task.)

S likes looking at a calendar also.  We have a 4 week calendar on our fridge that he frequently stops by to look at and gets sucked into the “Calendar Zone”.  We purchased a 4 month calendar to hang on the wall near his desk.  J has filled it in for him for this semester and color coded everything for S.


At this point, we believe we have everything in place for S to be successful.  I'm sure we are missing something. I am anxious to talk to him tomorrow afternoon to see how his first day went. As he likes to tell us, “You are more excited about this than I am.”  Maybe...just maybe….

I will be on the couch with chocolate looking forward to seeing how this next chapter in my son’s life plays out!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Homeschooling was REALLY comfortable!

My son, S, is starting college next week.  It’s hard to believe it is here already.  He is in denial about it.  He did not want to graduate.  He is not excited about starting college.  When asked why he is attending college if he isn’t excited about it, he responds, “I know I have to go to college for what I want to do.”  Okay.  College will be much better if you act like you are enjoying it.

Last week, college became very real for him.  He was having a lot of anxious moments about starting school.  This has been concerning for me and my husband.  Do we make him go if he is feeling this anxious about it?  Do we have him wait to start?  Would waiting help the anxiety go away?

We have had many talks with him about school and what it will entail for him.  Our son has multiple disabilities - Cerebral Palsy, Low Vision, and ADD.  He has more challenges than the average freshman.  He knows that all of his accommodations are in place.  He knows he has various support service personnel to help him at school and at two different state agencies.  He knows he has family and friends supporting him.  Still, there has been this anxiety about going to college.

My son was homeschooled for seven years.  We know he is prepared academically for college.  I have probably had some mommy anxious moments too, “Did I do a good enough job getting him ready?  Is he concerned about the work load?”.

Last week I was talking to a lady I have become friends with this past year.  I was telling her about S and his anxiety about college.  She said, “He is going to do just fine. He is ready for the classes”  

On our drive home after horseback riding, I shared this story with him.  I wanted him to know that he has a lot of people who believe in him and his ability to be successful.

The following conversation took place.
“I know I am going to do fine in my classes.”  
I stopped, looked at him, and clarified, “You aren’t worried about your classes?”
“Then why do you have such anxiety about going to college if you know you are going to do fine in your classes?  What is there to cause you to not want to attend?”
“Life is much easier at home.  Homeschooling was very comfortable, and I just knew that everything was taken care of and set up for me.”

Wow!  Didn’t expect that response!  I enjoyed that nice warm feeling for a moment and realized….

It is time for this baby bird to be pushed out of the nest and fly!  

You will find me on the couch with chocolate appreciating the fact that our homeschool was successful and, apparently, really comfortable.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

College just got real!

My son starts college in two weeks.  He’s still very apprehensive about it.  There is a lot of change taking place.  He is going to be far removed from his comfort zone.  We have everything in place for him.

*His support services are established.
*He has met with all of the people who are providing support services.
*He has Vocational Rehab plans in place through two different agencies.
*He has an Academic Plan in place with the college.
*He has his accommodations letters in hand.
*He is picking up his assistive technology next week.
*He has registered for classes.
*He has paid tuition.
*He has purchased his books.

The other day he checked his college email, and there it was - the syllabus for English Composition.  That freaked him out.    

There is nothing in that class that he can’t do.  There are things he will do differently (accommodations).  He emailed the professor with his accommodations letter attached and explained what he was going to need to do differently based upon her class requirements.  We told him he is being proactive which is a good thing.  

I had to explain to him that everyone in his class is going to be a little bit scared.  I told him to look around that first day and realize that every student in there will have some anxiety about being in a college course.  It’s not just him.  He’s not alone, and he will be okay.

I will be on the couch with chocolate which I may or may not share with my son.